Brittany Patterson

Energy and Environment Reporter

Brittany Patterson is the energy and environment reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the Ohio Valley ReSource. A native of northern California, Brittany comes to West Virginia from Washington, D.C., where she spent three years covering public lands and climate change for E&E News, an outlet that's widely considered required reading for energy and environment professionals.

She covers a broad range of topics including the oil and gas industry, coal industry, utilities, conservation, water quality issues and climate change across West Virginia and the Ohio Valley.

Brittany earned her bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University and her master's from U.C. Berkeley, both in journalism. Her work has been published in Scientific American, E&E News, TheAtlantic.com, Mother Jones, KQED, Earth Island Journal, Verily, and Refinery 29.

When not reporting the news, you can find her baking, hiking or cuddling with her 85-pound American bulldog, Cooper.

Ways to Connect

Gov. Justice takes the oath of office as his son James C. Justice III (center) looks on.
Office of the West Virginia Governor

In apparent anticipation of a federal lawsuit seeking recovery of overdue penalties, coal companies owned by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice have filed a lawsuit of their own against federal surface mining regulators.

 

 

The suit, first reported by WV MetroNews, is an apparent preemptive strike against the federal government, which is preparing to sue the companies over over unpaid fines associated with more than 100 environmental and reclamation violations at mines in West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.

AllVoices.com

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Abandoned Mine Lands and Reclamation is accepting applications for grant funding to redevelop abandoned mine lands through July 1, 2019.

 

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

This is the first story in an occasional series exploring the links between addiction recovery and a recovering economy.

It’s lunch hour, and Cafe Appalachia is bustling.

Located in South Charleston, West Virginia, the former church turned restaurant has a funky, yet calming vibe. Twinkle lights and mismatched dining room sets dot the space. For $8 to $10 a plate, diners can enjoy a locally-sourced meal.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators including West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore Capito this week introduced two bills aimed at further regulating a group of toxic chemicals known as PFAS.

Brittany Patterson/ WVPB

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to clean up a former mining equipment operation in Fayette County, known as the Shaffer site. On Monday, the EPA announced that the Shaffer site has been added to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites. 


Courtesy PTTGCA.

As a new plastics industry emerges in the Ohio Valley, a report by environmental groups warns that the expansion of plastics threatens the world’s ability to keep climate change at bay.

Jeff Young / Ohio Valley ReSource

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is holding a public meeting Tuesday to collect and share information about the revision of human health criteria in the state's water quality standards.

Bob Murray
Glynis Board / Ohio Valley ReSource

Coal mining executive Bob Murray has lost an appeal in a yearslong case regarding coal miner intimidation.

 

In an opinion issued Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with a previous decision that Murray Energy's president and CEO intimidated workers and interfered with miners’ rights to report unsafe working conditions. The appeals court denied Murray's petition to revist the earlier ruling.

 

Gov. Jim Justice, R. W.Va., delivers his annual State of the State speech on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Charleston, W.Va.
Tyler Evert / Associated Press

Updated May 8, 2019 at 2:45 p.m. 

 

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a civil lawsuit against 23 coal companies owned by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, seeking more than $4.7 million in unpaid fines and fees for mine safety and health violations.

Tim Reddinger fishing
Kara Lofton / WVPB

The variety of fish species in the Ohio River has substantially increased since the 1960s, according to a new study.

Natural gas pipe for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline sits in a yard Feb. 27, 2019, near Morgantown, W.Va.
Larry Dowling / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia environmental regulators have changed some state-imposed conditions to a federal permit issued for stream crossings for natural gas pipelines approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In a letter sent to federal regulators last week, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) officials submitted a series of changes to the state-imposed conditions for the Nationwide Permit 12.

The changes include the removal of a 72-hour time restriction for construction of interstate natural gas pipelines under waterways in certain cases.

Residual waste truck in Pennsylvania.
Iris Marie Bloom

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week said it will not strengthen regulations on waste created by oil and gas production, a move that could affect communities across the Ohio Valley where the oil and gas industry is booming in the Appalachian Basin.  

 

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A new report released today by the American Lung Association finds fine particle, or soot, pollution continues to improve across West Virginia, but smog pollution remains a challenge.

Jesse Wright / WVPB

State and federal politicians announced initiatives this week to move forward an effort to build a major underground natural gas liquids storage facility in the Ohio Valley, an effort opposed by environmental activists who fear a petrochemical expansion in the region will threaten not only the environment, but public health.

Harpers Ferry view from the hill
Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators, led in part by West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, have introduced a bill that would permanently fund a popular land conservation program that has provided money for conservation and recreation access in 54 of West Virginia’s 55 counties.

Valerius Tygart / Wikimedia Commons

The Appalachian Regional Commission Monday began accepting applications for a new leadership and economic training program.

Mine Safety Debt For WV Gov. Justice’s Family Companies Grows to $4M

Apr 8, 2019
Courtesy WV Governor's Office

An Ohio Valley ReSource analysis of federal mine safety data shows that the companies belonging to the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice owe $4.3 million in delinquent debt for mine safety violations. That is far more than the companies owed when Justice ran for governor in 2016, when he pledged to make good on such debts.

Janet Butler / USFWS

The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge’s namesake is apparent upon stepping outside its visitors center in Williamstown, West Virginia. Gazing past bird feeders and the forested bank of the Ohio River, a skinny island looms large.

“So Buckley Island is right across the water from us,” says Michael Schramm, visitor services manager at the refuge.

Tim Reddinger, Ohio River, Beaver, Pennsylvania
Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A multi-state commission charged with protecting the Ohio River heard testimony Monday evening in Pittsburgh that it should do more, not less to protect water quality.

 

In the first of three public hearings, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, or ORSANCO, heard from more than a dozen people about proposed changes to the commission’s pollution control standards for industrial and municipal wastewater discharges into the river.

Brittany Patterson / Ohio Valley ReSource

Governor Jim Justice released justifications Friday for 15 bills passed by the West Virginia Legislature that he vetoed due to technical errors, including two that would have impacted the state's natural gas industry.

Brittany Patterson / WVPB

A collaborative art exhibit at West Virginia University focuses on one of the state’s most abundant resources -- water. It also celebrates the many women who protect it.

Featuring brightly colored panels covering wide swaths of the downtown campus library’s walls, “WATER: Exploring the Significance, Power and Play of Life’s Critical Resource” explores the state’s rivers and wetland ecosystems, celebrates the art and recreation opportunities afforded by water, and explores challenges and solutions facing the state’s water resources.


Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

A bipartisan group of West Virginia Senators has introduced a resolution that would task a legislative committee with studying the state’s black lung epidemic.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 59 was introduced Friday afternoon in the Committee on Health and Human Resources. The resolution was sponsored by Sen. Ron Stollings, a Democrat from Boone County, who is also a doctor.

 

Adobe Stock

A bill that would reduce the severance tax on coal used by power plants is one step closer to passing.

After much debate Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Finance Committee passed an amended version of House Bill 3142. The measure, which has already passed the House, now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Adobe Stock

The West Virginia Legislature has passed a bill containing a set of environmental regulations, including a controversial water pollution rule that was pared down during the legislative process.

The House passed Senate Bill 163 on a 78-22 vote. The measure, which passed in the Senate last month, is now in effect.

A 2011 aerial photo of Little Blue Run, the largest coal ash waste site in the country.
Robert Donnan

More than 90 percent of the nation’s regulated coal ash repositories are leaking unsafe levels of toxic chemicals into nearby groundwater, including ash sites at more than 30 coal-fired power plants in the Ohio Valley.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia House passed a bill Wednesday that would reduce the severance tax paid on coal burned for electricity

 

House Bill 3142 passed on an 88-11 vote after contentious debate on the floor.

Long sought by industry, the legislation would reduce the severance tax paid by coal companies on steam or thermal coal from 5 percent to 4 percent effective July 1 and to 3 percent effective July 1, 2020.

 

 

Sections of pipe sit in a storage yard outside Buckhannon, W.Va.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting file photo

A federal appeals court has denied a request by the developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to rehear a case over the legality of permits that allow the multibillion dollar natural gas pipeline to cross under national forest lands, including the Appalachian Trail.

Jesse Wright / WVPB

About 100 West Virginia University faculty and students gathered outside of Woodburn Circle Thursday afternoon to voice their concerns about a so-called “campus carry” bill making its way through the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Courtesy Coal Miners Respiratory Clinic

Miners and advocates rallied Wednesday at the West Virginia Capitol in support of a series of bills aimed at preventing and treating severe black lung disease.

Five bills introduced by lawmakers would make it easier to make qualify for state benefits and provide benefits to miners who have early-stage black lung.

Adobe Stock

A West Virginia House committee on Tuesday, Feb. 19, voted down an amendment that would have restored the state’s water quality standards to the version originally proposed by state environmental regulators last summer.

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